Saturday, July 2, 2016

Chaperoned by Dora Heldt

by Dora Heldt

This is a charming book with a hilarious cast of characters and a little detective work and romance thrown in.  Every family has someone who means well but drives everyone nuts.  Christine is 45 years old, but her father treats her like she is 14.  When her mother has to have surgery and go to the hospital for 2 weeks (and yes, this is not in the U.S. where the average length of stay is a couple of days), everyone else is busy.   So Christine becomes the sacrificial lamb taking care of her father since he cannot do even simple household tasks such as making coffee, cooking, and laundry.  When her friend Dorothea expresses the concern that the vacation could be too tiring and too much for him, Christine tells her otherwise.  "Dorothea, you don't understand.  I'm more worried that he'll be too much for me. He can be quite demanding.  He really can't do anything by himself, he has to be kept busy, he's always sticking his nose in, he always knows better, he doesn't like change, he..."  Her mother writes her a list of instructions including "Don't get impatient if he makes a mistake now and then.  He means well, and you know how sensitive he is."   Now this is a working vacation.  Christine and Dorothea are to be helping their friend Marleen renovate her guest house and restaurant on a tourist island.  Her mother has told him that they could really use his help supervising the contractors and lending a hand.  The mishaps start before they even get to the island, and it bodes no good that he is color blind and fires the painters while the others are serving breakfast.  

Positives:  It is light-hearted, and there are surprises along the way.

Negatives:  At times Christine seems awfully naive for someone who is 45 years old, e.g. lending a lot of money to a stranger.  There is sex before marriage, but not at all steamy and more of an aside.
Reviewed by Dr. Doris Altherr